San Mateo County Looks to Hospital District for Funds
San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill has requested that the Sequoia Healthcare District contribute about $7 million annually to help fund a plan to extend health coverage to the county's uninsured adults, the Oakland Tribune reports. The Sequoia contribution would amount to about all of the local property tax revenue that the district will collect in this fiscal year.
However, Sequoia District CEO Stephani Scott said, "We'd be doing a disservice to the community if we were just to hand over 100% of the tax revenues to this (county health coverage) project" (Bishop, Oakland Tribune, 11/28).
San Mateo County is considering options to provide health insurance coverage to about 40,000 uninsured residents. Some analysts project that the effort will cost $100 million annually.
The county already has secured $7.5 million in federal grants annually for three years to help fund the coverage expansion (California Healthline, 11/2).
Hill said that without the contribution, legal questions could arise over the district's proposed contribution to help fund a $240 million renovation and expansion of Sequoia Hospital.
Under the agreement, Sequoia would provide $75 million for the seismic retrofit of the hospital and construction of a new campus in Redwood City, as well as turn over the ownership and control of the hospital to Catholic Healthcare West. CHW and Sequoia Health Services also will contribute $75 million each.
In addition, Hill said a review of the agreement by the County Counsel's Office suggested that providing $75 million of the district's public money to a Catholic organization could violate the separation of church and state in the U.S. Constitution.
The health care district board is scheduled to vote on the agreement on Friday (Oakland Tribune, 11/28).